Become a Discovery Scholar

The Discovery Scholar distinction is intended to recognize and celebrate graduating seniors who have excelled academically while making a meaningful contribution to their field of study through exceptional new scholarship or artistic work. Learn more about the history of the Discovery Scholar distinction here.

Step 1: Determine Eligibility
Step 2: Review Project Requirements
Step 3: Apply for Discovery Scholars

1. Determine Eligibility

To be designated as a Discovery Scholar upon graduation, applicants must be a graduating senior and:

  • graduate with a minimum of 3.5 overall GPA (with University Honors)
  • graduate within 5 years of entering USC
  • meet criteria for distinction set by the appropriate USC School

2. Review Project Requirements for Discovery Scholars

A complete application will include a final project and a letter of recommendation. Utilize the designated School Coordinators for specific questions about project criteria for each individual USC School. For general questions about the USC Discovery Scholar distinction, contact Academic Honors and Fellowships at

Final Project Requirements

Letter of Recommendation

  • Whenever possible, letter should come from the faculty member who has supervised or mentored the student on the project. Applicants should discuss intent to submit an application and request a letter as early as possible.
  • Letter should provide context for student’s work relative to the: student’s overall achievement and performance in the program; scope and quality of their contribution to submitted project; merit of the project relative to quality of work typically presented at the undergraduate level and the highest standards of the discipline; and value and implications of the project in the field of study and beyond.

Applicants will also be asked to submit a current resume or C.V. as part of the application.

3. Apply for Discovery Scholars

Graduating seniors must apply during the spring semester of their final academic year in order to graduate with the distinction. May and August graduates apply in their final spring semester. December graduates apply after graduation.

Application Open: October 21, 2019

Deadline for Distinction + Prize Competition: March 23, 2020

Application Open (Distinction Only): Late March

Final Deadline (Distinction Only): April 20, 2020

Apply for USC Discovery Scholar Distinction Prize Competition Here

After submitting an application, students should closely review emails from Academic Honors and Fellowships for notifications regarding status of distinction, follow-up for prize nominations, and instructions for receiving a medallion at the beginning of May.

Prize winners must demonstrate evidence of enrollment in a graduate program (within or outside the U.S.); or submit a proposal for a creative project that advances their career. Prize funding must be utilized within 5 years of graduating from USC. More information in the FAQ page.

Contact Us

General Advising: October – Mid-March
General information only – see School Criteria & School Coordinators for project-specific questions and Fellowship Fridays

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